Advent, Feast of the Immaculate Conception

I took off work today in obedience to this Holy Day of Obligation. It was a struggle to even ask for it, against my people-pleasing ego in the midst of the busiest time of the year. Busy, not just because Christmas is coming, but year-end for accountants…sigh. Yet, once again, I find myself incredibly grateful for the chains of obedience instead of being hindered by them. Holy Mother Church truly does know best! Now that it is here and I have a full day to dedicate to worship and rest…my goodness, it sounds heavenly! It opens up my time and attention, making room to really settle in to the purpose of this beautiful feast day.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I love that it occurs during Advent, giving us more detail about the person He chose to carry Him into this world. He became Flesh, and it was by her flesh overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. She is where this miracle happened…who is she? She was conceived without sin. Born without sin. Lived without sin. And death could not hold her in the tomb because she was without sin and, therefore, the penalty of death had nothing to do with her.

And I am told this perfectly immaculate mother is mine.

“When Jesus therefore had seen His mother and the disciple standing whom He loved, He saith to His mother: Woman, behold thy son. After that, He saith to the disciple: Behold thy mother. And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.”

St. John 19:25-26

What a profoundly intimate gift. When I think of it in terms of marriage, the best example for comprehending union with God, this is the part where the fiancé is truly invited into the family. And Jesus doesn’t just ask us to meet His mother. He says she is ours.

And what is a mother meant to be to a child? A nurturer, a comforter, a guide, a teacher, a mentor. How much we naturally imitate our earthly mothers, and so, spring boarding from there, how much we should imitate our heavenly mother.

Such a high supernatural goal presents a temptation to shrink back, thinking I could never be immaculate like her. But while I cannot be pure from the beginning like her, I can still learn to make choices like her.

“The fact that she was free of all human concupiscence, free of all the effects of original sin, does not mean she was without choices…she chose the will of God and she chose it freely.”

Mother Mary Francis

Jesus knew what it meant to introduce someone to a mother in a relationship headed towards complete union. He also knew He was giving this immaculate mother to flawed children, and He still chose it freely. He wants us to come in close to His family and become a part of it.

But I also know that although I am flawed, I am to come with a clean heart. And so I go back to this need to be taught by His clean mother, this gift of being put under her patient, loving care.

In the Advent book I am reading (Come, Lord Jesus), Mother Mary Francis gave this example of a spotless kitchen. It could be immaculately clean because it has never been accessed, never utilized to feed anyone, never disturbed to serve anyone. Or it could be cleansed during and after a lot of hard and messy work.

Can’t you just picture the mother buzzing around the kitchen preparing for Christmas dinner? She’s teaching her children to cook, directing them to set the table and later to bring the dishes back to be washed. She’s right there in front, guiding them…beside them as they grow experienced enough to take on different tasks…behind them, wiping up spills and sweeping their crumbs from the floor. She completely spends herself making sure love happens here and leaves things looking immaculate. And when it’s time for Him to arrive, He glimpses that immaculate kitchen in the background as He sits down with this beautiful family at the feast.

O Maria, concepta sine, peccato ora pro nobis qui ad te confugimus!

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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